May Your Road be Rough!

MAY YOUR ROAD BE ROUGH by Tai Solarin(1922 – 1994).


I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore repeat, may you have a hard time this year, may there be plenty of troubles for you this year! If you are not so sure what you should say back, why not just say, ‘Same to you’? I ask for no more.

Our successes are conditioned by the amount of risk we are ready to take. Earlier on today I visited a local farmer about three miles from where I live. He could not have been more than fifty-five, but he said he was already too old to farm vigorously. He still suffered, he said, from the physical energy he displayed as a farmer in his younger days. Around his hut were two pepper bushes. There were kokoyams growing round him. There were snail shells which had given him meat. There must have been more around the banana trees I saw. He hardly ever went to town to buy things. He was self-sufficient. The car or the bus, the television or the telephone, the newspaper, Vietnam or Red China were nothing to him. He had no ambitions whatsoever, he told me. I am not sure if you are already envious of him, but were we all to revert to such a life, we would be practically driven back to cave dwelling. On the other hand, try to put yourself into the position of the Russian or the America astronaut. Any moment now the count, 3, 2, 1, is going to go, and you are going to be shot into the atmosphere and soon you will be whirling round our earth at the speed of six miles per second. If you get so fired into the atmosphere and you forget what to do to ensure return to earth, one of the things that might happen to you is that you could become forever satellite, going round the earth until you die of starvation and even then your body would continue the gyration!

When, therefore, you are being dressed up and padded to be shot into the sky, you know only too well that you are going on the roughest road man had ever trodden. The Americans and Russians who have gone were armed with the great belief that they would come back. But I cannot believe that they did not have some slight foreboding on the contingency of their non-return. It is their courage for going in spite of these apprehensions that makes the world hail them so loudly today.

The big fish is never caught in shallow waters. You have to go into the open sea for it. The biggest businessmen make decisions with lighting speed and carry them out with equal celerity. They do not dare delay or dally. Time would pass them by if they did. The biggest successes are preceded by the greatest of heart-burnings. You should read the stories of the bomber pilots of World War II. The Russian pilot, the German pilot, the American or the British pilot suffered exactly the same physical and mental tension the night before a raid on enemy territory. There were no alternative routes for those who most genuinely believed in victory for their side.

You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, throughout the world, there is no paean without pain. Jawaharlal Nehru has put it so well. I am paraphrasing him. He wants to meet his troubles in a frontal attack. He wants to see himself tossed into the aperture between the two horns of the bull. Being there, he determines he is going to win and, therefore, such a fight requires all his faculties.

When my sisters and I were young and we slept on our small mats round our mother, she always woke up at 6a.m. for morning prayers. She always said prayers on our behalf but always ended with something like this: ‘May we not enter into any dangers or get into any difficulties this day.’ It took me almost thirty years to dislodge the canker-worm in our mother’s sentiments. I found, by hard experience, that all that is noble and laudable was to be achieved only through difficulties and trials and tears and dangers. There are no other roads.

If I was born into a royal family and should one day become a constitutional king, I am inclined to think I should go crazy. How could I, from day to day, go on smiling and nodding approval at somebody else’s successes for an entire lifetime? When Edward the Eighth (now Duke of Windsor) was a young, sprightly Prince of Wales, he went to Canada and shook so many hands that his right arm nearly got pulled out of its socket. It went into a sling and he shook hands thenceforth with his left hand. It would appear he was trying his utmost to make a serious job out of downright sinecurism.

Life, if it is going to be abundant, must have plenty of hills and vales. It must have plenty of sunshine and rough weather. It must be rich in obfuscation and perspicacity. It must be packed with days of danger and of apprehension.

When I walk into the dry but certainly cool morning air of every January 1st, I wish myself plenty of tears and of laughter, plenty of happiness and unhappiness, plenty of failures and successes. Plenty of abuse and praise. It is impossible to win ultimately without a rich measure of intermixture in such a menu. Life would be worthless without the lot. We do not achieve much in this country because we are all so scared of taking risks. We all want the smooth and well-paved roads. While the reason the Americans and others succeeded so well is that they took such great risks.

If, therefore, you are out in this New Year 1964, to win any target you have set for yourself, please accept my prayers and your elixir. May your road be rough!

Tai Solarin (1922-1994) was one of Nigeria’s foremost social activists his legacy includes the famous Mayflower School, Ikenne and Mollusi College Ijebu-Ode. This article was published in Daily Times Newspaper of January 1st, 1964. 



This post is in Honor of a great Nigerian Patriot who lives on in spirit, wisdom and ideas past death this day 21 years ago.

Happy Aboriginal Day!

Honor the sacred.

Honor the Earth, our Mother.

Honor the Elders.

Honor all with whom we share the Earth:

Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,

Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.

Walk in balance and beauty.


Native American Elder


….to celebrate the cultures and contributions to Canada of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples….I thought I’d post in honor of indegenous peoples today.

#ChangeIsHere – The Tipping Point Analogy

My father was a politician. This experience convinced me beyond a doubt that participating in politics was NOT the way to effect change. I had always said, I will leave my mark on my Country, but what good is it being the lone sheep amongst wolves? One good apple in a basket of rotten apples can not “un-rot” the others. I had resigned all hope in politics, until the day there were enough progressive minded people in power; I had thought to myself – A critical mass of the good ones in power… I am not convinced that day is here yet. I am convinced though, that we do have enough followers who are awake, and this is just as good, maybe better.

I am no political pundit or historian, and this fact makes this an especially interesting first blog post for me. However, I am Nigerian and deeply patriotic at that. As such I feel compelled to write my personal musings on the events of March 28th to 31st 2015.

It was truly an incredible experience to have lived through, and though I am all the way here in Canada; the excitement of it all was overwhelming. I sat glued to my screen enthralled by it all and thoroughly enjoying the entertainment of smack talk accurately delivered as though part of a soccer game. We finally seem to have got to that critical mass of awakened souls. A time after decades of numbness and apathy, in which so much aligned for us to change our course. The irony is, I am not particularly happy about our choice of president, but I am ecstatic about the fact that we rose above fear. We chose, and it mattered.

Buhari’s past is just not very pretty and littered with severe violations to human rights plus his involvement in at least 2 coups. I hate bullies, and of all the vices of the human experience, I can not abide abusers of power. Yet the reign of Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan (GEJ), made the Buhari choice an easy one (despite my complete inability to vote due to distance). High on my list of GEJ grievances are the over 200 girls abducted 355 days ago and no obvious strategy to address the issue of their current absence; the active and growing Boko Haram security threat; the rejected senate amendment to Section 29 (4) (b) of the Nigerian Constitution which technically serves as a loophole for child marriages…and there are so many more grievances. This man and his clownish wife made it an easy choice for a former military dictator and muslim northerner to take over power, despite active concerns with islamic Boko Haram threats.

And herein lies an epiphany for me; though, in my opinion, we have not necessarily reached a critical mass of great leaders for genuine progress; the spirit of Elections ’15 seems to have been contagious enough to have ignited the masses 15 million plus people in unison of purpose, despite our history and in a historic move for our Continent.

This got me thinking about Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping point. A lot of this particular sociological change resonates with the book. There were Connectors like Sahara Reporters; Mavens like David Axelrod; Salesmen like Prof Yemi Osibanjo… There was the Stickiness factor of the campaign on a platform of change and promising to solve our security problems with Boko haram and most importantly, 55 years after independence, the Nigerian people had finally had enough. And as such, in Gladwell’s words, there was the “Power of Context” at work.

We really seem to have reached that boiling point where ideas and hope for change spread like a virus overwhelmed us and compelled us to decide!